In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.
—Albert Camus the word chemotherapy is derived from the combination of "chemical" and "therapy" or treatment. It means using drugs, singly or in combination, to destroy or disrupt the growth of cancer cells without permanently damaging normal cells.
This chapter describes the most common drugs that are used to kill cancer cells as well as drugs that prevent nausea and treat pain. Numerous stories are included that show the range of responses to different chemotherapy drugs.
Reading about potential side effects of chemotherapy can be disturbing. However, it is important to be aware of the possibilities in order to recognize symptoms early and report them to the doctor so that swift action can be taken to make your child more comfortable. On rare occasions, side effects may be life-threatening and some can persist throughout life. However, most are merely unpleasant and subside soon after treatment ends. Remember that your child may experience several, a few, or none of the side effects discussed here.
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